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Troubleshooting Your Beer Keg Refrigerator

Troubleshooting Your Beer Keg Refrigerator

If you are having trouble with your beer keg refrigerator, do not panic. There is very little that can actually go wrong with your kegerator or draft beer system.

Regular cleaning of your beer lines is essential to keeping your beer keg refrigerator in top shape, but there is always a chance that you have a damaged O-ring somewhere along the line. This is easy to fix. It may be that you merely need to adjust your CO2 gas settings. Lets look at a couple of symptoms and solutions for them:

Symptom 1
Beer is over foaming. This is a common problem with beer keg refrigerators. The first thing to consider is whether your keg has been shaken up recently. Sadly, you cannot simply pick up your keg at the grog shop, bring it home, hook it up, and start serving.

You must wait for the beer to settle after transportation, for at least four hours. Then, if your pressure and temperature are set right, you still may have a glass or two of foam to contend with, but you will be on much better terms with your beer.

Q. What is the correct temperature and pressure for serving keg draft beer?

A. This varies slightly form beer to beer, and depending on your local climate's atmosphere. Generally speaking, the correct temperature for serving keg beer is to chill the keg to 38 degrees. Read more about Draft Beer Temperature.

Proper serving pressure is usually around 5 to 12 PSI. Six is a good number to start with. This number is largely dependent on the size and length of your beer line, however. This is because the more line the beer travels through, the more pressure is required for the beer to traverse the distance. You should be able to find out the resistance per foot of the beer line in your home draft beer system by contacting the manufacturer, but here is a quick guide:

Beer Line Resistance Guide
3/16" I.D. plastic beer line 2.7 PSI per foot
1/4" I.D. plastic beer line 0.7 PSI per foot
5/16" I.D. plastic beer line 0.17 PSI per foot
3/8" I.D. plastic beer line 0.11 PSI per foot
1/2" I.D. plastic beer line 0.025 PSI per foot

If your beer lines have NOT been cleaned regularly, this may cause sediment to get stuck to the inside of the beer line. This acts like a rough spot that the CO2 bubbles get stuck on and then they get pulled out of the CO2 beer mixture, causing foam. So make sure to clean your beer lines regularly. Make sure that you use a non-abrasive cleaner, though. Scratches in the sides of the beer lines can do the same thing. See our beer line cleaners.

Symptom 2
Beer is lacking head. The opposite of the over-foaming problem is beer that is not developing its head properly. Most likely, the beer has undergone a lessening of carbonation. This may be a result of your CO2 pressure regulator being set too low. If your pressure is less than seven PSI, you might try increasing it by a pound or two. If this does not work, you may have a leak in your gas line, so you should carefully listen to your lines and determine if this is true.

You can also get a bowl of soapy water and douse the line with it, looking for bubbling. The leak might be coming from your gas-in valve on your keg. If you have a Sanke tap, you may want to bring it in to be looked at. For Cornelius kegs, it is a simple matter of replacing the O-ring in the gas in valve if it is worn. See our kegerator replacement parts.

Symptom 3
Beer is not flowing fast enough. You may need to balance your beer keg refrigerator a little more accurately. If your beer line is too long, it may hinder your beer flow. Take into consideration the length, the resistance according to the diameter, and the optimal pressurization of the beer you are serving. Read more about Balancing Your Home Draft System.


Published On: Tuesday, February 3, 2009

For additional information on kegerators or draft beer topics please visit our kegerator article center.

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